Away From Dollar

Russia, China to Create Entirely Different Gold Market

While key Western banks are artificially restraining gold prices to breathe life into the diluted and devalued dollar system, Russia, China and other emerging economies are involved in “the genial move” to establish an entirely different gold market.

by F William Engdahl

http://sputniknews.com (August 16 2015)

Key central banks, particularly the Federal Reserve and Bank of England, and Western market players have long been accused of clandestine gold price manipulating aimed at preserving the dollar’s role “as world reserve currency primus”.

“The COMEX gold futures market in New York and the Over-the-Counter (OTC) trades cleared through the London Bullion Market Association do set prices which are followed most widely in the world. They are also markets dominated by a handful of huge players, the six London Bullion Market Association gold clearing banks –  the corrupt JP MorganChase bank; the scandal-ridden UBS bank of Zurich; The Bank of Nova Scotia –  ScotiaMocatta, the world’s oldest bullion bank which began as banker to the British East India Company, the group that ran the China Opium Wars; the scandal-ridden Deutsche Bank; the scandal-ridden Barclays Bank of London; HSBC of London, the house bank of the Mexican drug cartels; and the scandal and fraud-ridden Societe Generale of Paris”, Engdahl narrated.

Furthermore, Western banks are issuing numerous paper “gold-futures” and other speculative contracts which are in fact disconnected from real physical gold.

In a word, operations with the precious metal in London and New York are in questionable hands, the economic researcher noted.

The West’s ultimate goal is to preserve the dollar’s monopoly in the market thus breathing life into the US-led global financial system. But no one likes monopolists.

Predictably, the current state of affairs cannot satisfy rising economies, such as China, Russia and other emerging powers.

However, “[r]ather than scream and cry ‘fraud’ at the owners of the COMEX/CME or the London Bullion Market Association Big Six clearing banks, these countries are involved in the genial move to create an entirely different gold market, one that not JP MorganChase or HSBC or Deutsche Bank control, but one that China, Russia and others of a like mind control”, Engdahl stressed.

This new approach is connected closely with the China-led New Silk Road project and the Shanghai-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

In May 2015 Beijing announced it had established a state-run gold investment fund, aiming to bolster China’s role in global gold trade. The new initiative is a part of China’s ambitious One Belt and One Road plan. The “Silk Road Gold Fund” will invest in mining projects in the regions along the New Silk Road encouraging central banks of its members to increase their holdings in the precious metal.

“As China has expressed it, the aim is to enable the Eurasian countries along the Silk Road to increase the gold backing of their currencies. That sounds very much like some clear-thinking and far-sighted governments are thinking of creating a stable group of gold backed currencies that would facilitate orderly trade free from Washington currency wars”, the economic researcher elaborated.

And Russia is actively cooperating with China in this field, he underscored, adding that just before the creation of China’s new gold fund the countries inked a deal to explore the gold reserves in Russia’s Magadan region.

Over the past several years Russia has been rapidly replenishing its vaults with golden bullion. In accordance with official data, Russian physical gold reserves currently amounted to 1250.9 tons in June 2015.

Today Russia is considered the world’s third largest gold producer with 245 metric tons produced in 2014, while China produces over 450 tons a year.

“South Africa, also a member of the BRICS along with China and Russia, stands to add to the new energy surrounding a renaissance in gold as a support of solid, well-based currencies to replace the diluted and devalued dollar system”, the researcher stressed.

According to Engdahl, the New Economic Silk Road, integrated with Russia’s new Eurasian Economic Union, are more than just energy and railroad infrastructure: they are the central nervous system of the future largest and fastest-growing economic space on Earth.

Interestingly enough, according to the ANZ Research report “East to El Dorado: Asia and the Future of Gold” the gold price may soar as high as $2,000 a troy ounce by 2025. ANZ Research underscored that gold, despite its current slump, remains both an investment and a defensive asset. The rise of emerging economies, such as China and India will facilitate the demand for gold investments.

“While most eyes are fixed on COMEX or the London Bullion Market Association listed daily gold price fix, the real worth of gold as a currency reserve and a standard of monetary soundness is growing in worth by the day”, Engdahl concluded adding that this trend is a real pain in the neck of the US Treasury, Federal Reserve and Wall Street.

(c) Sputnik/ Pavel Lisitsyn

Related:

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150801/1025308445.html

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150808/1025540019.html

http://sputniknews.com/asia/20150528/1022671116.html

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150515/1022196235.html

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http://sputniknews.com/business/20150816/1025811280.html#ixzz3izjz8gsS

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How China Cornered the Fed

2015/09/02 2 comments

With Its “Worst Case” Capital Outflow Countdown

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (August 31 2015)

Last week, in “What China’s Treasury Liquidation Means: $1 Trillion QE In Reverse {1}”, we took a look at the potential size of the renminbi/yuan carry trade, noting that according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (“BofAML”), the unwind could, in the worst case scenario, be somewhere on the order of $1 trillion.

Extrapolating from that and applying Citi’s take on the impact of emerging market reserve drawdowns on ten-year US Treasury bond yields (which, incidentally, is based on “Financing US Debt: Is There Enough Money in the World –  and at What Cost?”, by John Kitchen and Menzie Chinn from 2011), we noted that potentially, if China were to use its foreign exchange (“FX”) reserves to offset the pressure on the yuan from the unwind of the great renminbi carry, the effect could be to put more than 200 basis points of upward pressure on the US Treasury bond yield.

Going farther, we also said that $1 trillion in FX reserve liquidation by the People’s Bank of China (“PBoC”) would essentially negate around sixty percent of QE3. In other words, China’s persistent FX interventions amount to reverse quantitative easing (“QE”) or, as Deutsche Bank calls is “quantitative tightening” {2}.

Now, Societe Generale (“SocGen”) is out with a description of China’s “impossible trinity” or “trilemma”. Here’s the critical passage:

The PBoC is caught in an awkward position: not letting the currency go requires significant FX intervention that will not prevent ongoing capital outflows but which will result in tightening domestic liquidity conditions; but letting the currency go risks more immense capital outflow pressures in the immediate short term, external debt defaults and possibly further domestic investment deceleration. Furthermore, it has to consider the painful repercussions globally that could result from any sharp renminbi depreciation.

In other words, because the new currency regime looks to have paradoxically created a situation where the market will play less of a role in determining the exchange rate for the yuan, China will be stuck liquidating its reserves and offsetting that resultant liquidity drain with reverse repos, RRR cuts, and a mishmash of short- and medium-term lending operations which, to the extent they’re seen as net easing, will only exacerbate pressure on the yuan, necessitating still more interventions in a very non-virtuous loop until such a time as the PBoC either runs out of assets to sell or else throws in the towel and moves to a free float which would likely trigger an all-out short-term panic.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Everything could suddenly be “fixed”, or, as SocGen describes it, “for the renminbi to appreciate compared to its current value (6.40) will require a very positive environment for emerging markets coupled with a cessation of capital outflows and a vibrant cyclical growth and an export recovery”.

Since it’s difficult to imagine a situation that’s further from what’s currently playing out across emerging economies, we can rule that out, and because even if China can manage to mitigate outflows by “temporarily tighten[ing] (the implementation of capital controls”, solving the puzzle here will, to quote SocGen again, “still entail large-scale FX intervention”, we can move straight to a consideration of how dramatic the FX reserve liquidation may ultimately be. Here’s SocGen’s three scenarios:

 Logically, we should first make assumptions about the PBoC’s tolerance for currency volatility and FX reserves drawdown. However, practically, it still helps to envision likely scenarios of capital outflows and reverse-engineer the amount of FX reserves needed. We present a few scenarios over a one-year time horizon to gauge possible reserve usage.

* Base case: Current account surplus of $280 billion over the next four quarters plus capital outflows (FDI + portfolio + other + NEOs) that are fifty percent greater than the previous year ($560 billion) would equate to the PBoC needing to use $280 billion of reserves over the next twelve months if it wanted to stabilize the renminbi.

 * Moderately bad case: Current account surplus falls by fifty percent ($150 billion) and capital outflows accelerate by a factor of two compared to the previous year ($750 billion). The PBoC would need to absorb $600 billion in outflows if its goal was no further renminbi depreciation

 * Worst case: Foreigners exit all cumulative portfolio investment from the past five years ($260 billion), five years worth of cumulative foreign inflows into trade credit/loans/deposits are reversed ($530 billion), and locals accelerate outflows by a factor of two ($400 billion). There could be $1.2 trillion in outflows. If the current figure halved over the next year to $140 billion, net outflows would be around $1.04 trillion. There would be hardly any money left to leave after this, and the PBoC would be left with a meagre $2.5 trillion in reserves (chart 18).

Or, visually:

The chart above is important: what it shows is that not only is the Fed trapped in a corner domestically, on one hand dreading the launch of the tightening cycle (as can be seen by the endless drama and dithering about whether or not to hike rates) which will not only unleash even more asset selling and in the process tighten financial conditions even more, thus limiting what little inflationary impulse exists in the economy, while on the other risking complete loss of confidence if it were to postpone or cancel the tightening cycle, but now it is also trapped internationally, courtesy of China’s August 11 announcement of its currency devaluation, which has started a T-minus 365 day countdown on the Fed’s successful conclusion of its monetary policy implementation.

Furthermore, as SocGen explains vividly, the potential outcomes for China from this point on, are bad, worse and worst, and since China’s recent “success” in effectively controlling its housing, credit, and last but not least, its stock market bubble, has demonstrated a worst case scenario is almost certainly the most probable one, what the above analysis means, is that while the Fed may be hoping for the best and expecting an even better outcome, the “reverse QE” that China launched less than three weeks ago, will make the Fed’s job that much more difficult as its presents not only a timing constraint to Fed policy, but a monetary one as well in the form of what Deustche Bank dubs “Quantitative Tightening”.

In fact, one can argue that since there is no way [to] resolve China’s “impossible trinity” of pursuing a stable exchange rate, an open capital account and an independent interest rate policy all at the same time, the worst case scenario is very likely an optimistic one. This means that as the Fed debates whether or not to hike, and how much, the acceleration in Chinese capital outflows starting on August 11 has set the path for the Fed, and at this point any incremental delay in hiking merely adds more to the already vast cross-capital and currency confusion around the globe. However, no longer is the Fed’s quandary open ended: with every passing day, China is suffering incremental tens of billions in capital flight, in reserve liquidation, and thus, tighter global financial conditions, as can be expected from the unwind of the world’s largest depository of US Dollar-denominated reserves.

Finally, what all of this really means, is that having pushed China to the point of dissociating itself from the US Dollar peg officially, the more the Fed tightens, the more China will have to push back through devaluation or otherwise, and the more capital outflows it will be subject to, thereby amplifying the Fed’s tightening posture around the globe. In this very unstable arrangement, suddenly the smallest policy error will reverberate exponentially, and result in the only possible outcome: the Fed’s admission of policy failure by adopting a tightening bias, and ultimately launching another phase of monetary easing, be it QE4 or perhaps even the long-overdue and much anticipated Friedmanesque “helicopter money” episode.

In even simpler terms: China has just cornered the Fed: not just diplomatically, as observed when China’s PBOC clearly demanded that Yellen’s Fed not start a rate hiking cycle, but also mechanistically, as can be seen by the acute and sudden selloff across all asset classes in the past three weeks. Now Yellen has about 365 days or so to find a solution, one which works not only for the US, but also does not leave China a smoldering rubble of three concurrently burst bubbles. Good luck.

Links:

{1} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-27/what-chinas-treasury-liquidation-means-1-trillion-qe-reverse

{2} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-28/reason-chinas-crash-will-unleash-global-bond-shockwave

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-31/how-china-cornered-fed-its-worst-case-capital-outflow-countdown

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Washington’s Financial / Currency War on China

Eclipsing of US Dollar by Yuan

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Strategic-Culture.org Online Journal (August 30 2015)

The Chinese are in the process of displacing the monopoly of the US dollar. They are dropping their US Treasury bonds, stockpiling gold reserves, and opening regional distribution banks for their own national currency. This will give them easier access to capital markets and insulate them from financial manipulation by Washington and Wall Street.

Fearing the eclipsing of the US dollar and the Bretton Woods system by a rival financial architecture the US response has been an attempt to damage the Chinese markets and increase the value of China’s currency. China has responded through regulations in the market and then quantitative easing of its currency to maintain the low prices of Chinese manufactured goods and exports.

Beijing’s quantitative easing is a reaction or response to the financial manipulation of Washington and Wall Street. Additionally, Washington never thought that the Chinese would respond by dumping US Treasury bonds. Instead of the hysteria about the Chinese economy {1}, “the impending collapse of the US dollar should be getting all of the attention of investors”, one US economist (Peter Schiff) has warned. Schiff’s voice is one of many analysts saying that the talk about the Chinese economy faltering is exaggerated and bad spirited.

Financial War against China, Russia:
America’s War against the “Community of Destiny”

As the financial architecture of the world is being altered by China and Russia, the US dollar is gradually being neutralized as one of Washington’s weapon of choice. Even the monopoly of Washington’s Bretton Woods system formed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank is being directly challenged. Although they do not constitute alternatives to neoliberal economics, the BRICS News Development Bank (NDB) and Beijing’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are challenging the Bretton Woods system through a rival financial structure.

The US Empire has been cognizant of the moves to establish a rival financial order. Policymakers in the Washington Beltway, the Pentagon, and Wall Street all watched the dual summits of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Russian city of Ufa with concern {2}. Up to that point, they had been waging an information/propaganda, energy, financial market, currency war, and general economic war against the Russian Federation. Post-Ufa, they extended the financial market and economic war to China {3}.

Banks and governments in the European Union had been considering and examining the use of China’s national currency, renminbi/yuan, as a reserve currency. This was because of attractiveness of the stability of renminbi as a currency. This had Washington and Wall Street worried and was one of the factors that resulted in the expansion of the currency and financial war on Russia to China.

Using speculation as a psychological weapon and market manipulation, the US launched a financial strike against the Chinese. This was done through an attempt to sink or crash the Chinese stock market and hurt investor confidence in the Chinese economy and its stocks {4}. Beijing, however, reacted quickly by imposing controls on investment withdrawals. This prevented the snowballing of stock selloffs and defused the US financial bomb.

As the price of renminbi began to rise Beijing began quantitative easing to devalue its national currency as a means of continuing export trade. The US Congress and White House began to loudly object. The accused the Chinese of financial manipulation and demanded that Beijing do nothing to readjust the value of the renminbi. What the folks in the Washington Beltway wanted was for the Chinese to let the value of the renminbi to rise as a means of disrupting China’s economy and market.

The Chinese Dragon Strikes Back:
Beijing Liquidates its US Bonds

Push China and it will push back. The buck (or, more properly, renminbi/yuan) did not stop with the introduction of regulations by Beijing. China took steps that shock Wall Street and put Washington on notice.

As US financial institutions began trying to hurt investor confidence in China through psychological tactics claiming that the Chinese economy was slowing down and that the Chinese market was in freefall, Beijing announced that it had bought 600 tons of gold in the span of a month and the People’s Bank of China had got rid of over seventeen billion US dollars from its foreign exchange (“FX”) reserves. China’s foreign exchange reserves – excluding the foreign reserves of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macau Special Administrative Region – were 3.71 trillion (37,111,430 million) US dollars in May 2015. They had dropped to 3.69 trillion (36,938,380 million) US dollars by June 2015.

The financial market webpage Zero Hedge, which had been following this development, explained what it had discovered was taking place:

We then put China’s change in FX reserves alongside the total Treasury holdings of China and its ‘anonymous’ offshore Treasury dealer Euroclear (aka ‘Belgium’) as released by TIC, and found that the dramatic relationship which we first discovered back in May, has persisted – namely virtually the entire delta in Chinese FX reserves come via China’s US Treasury holdings {5}.

The main point here was that China’s US Treasury bonds “are being aggressively sold, to the tune of $107 billion in Treasury sales so far in 2015” {6}. By following China’s financial transactions in Belgium, Zero Hedge had actually calculated that Beijing had dropped 143 billion US dollars in three months {7}. A few months later, in August, the Chinese dropped 100 billion US dollars worth of US Treasury bonds in the span of two weeks {8}.

A day later, on August 27, Bloomberg corroborated what Zero Hedge had identified. A Bloomberg report explained the following:

The People’s Bank of China has been offloading dollars and buying yuan to support the exchange rate, a policy that’s contributed to a $315 billion drop in its foreign-exchange reserves over the last twelve months. The $3.65 trillion stockpile will fall by some $40 billion a month in the remainder of 2015 because of the intervention, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey {9}.

While the Bloomberg emphasized that the Chinese were using US dollars to buy their own national currency, it casually mentioned, “Strategically, it probably has been China’s intention to find the right time to lighten up its excessive accumulation of US Treasuries”, citing an economist at Reorient Financial Markets Limited in Hong Kong.

The Eclipsing of the US Dollar by the Chinese Renminbi

Wall Street should be worried about the economic problems at home in the US instead of trying to undermine China. The talk about the slowing down of the Chinese economy in part is distraction. It diverts attention from the decline of the US and is meant to enforce the efforts of Washington and Wall Street to rein in Beijing. The Chinese, however, continue to move forward undeterred.

Beijing selected Qatar as its first renminbi clearing house in the Middle East and North Africa for regional exchange markets there in April 2015 {10}. The name of this clearing house is the Qatar Renminbi Centre. It will circumvent US financial structures and give greater access to oil and natural gas from the Middle East and North Africa to the People’s Republic of China.

Despite the wishes of Wall Street and Washington, the Silk World Order is moving forward.

Links:

{1} http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/Economy/peter-schiff-dollar-china-economy/2015/08/11/id/669647/

{2} http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/07/10/brics-sco-summit-ufa-marks-start-silk-world-order.html

{3} http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/07/13/fighting-russian-chinese-community-destiny-did-us-try-crash-china-market-because-brics-new-development-bank.html

{4} http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/07/13/fighting-russian-chinese-community-destiny-did-us-try-crash-china-market-because-brics-new-development-bank.html

{5} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-21/chinas-record-dumping-us-treasuries-leaves-goldman-speechless

{6} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-21/chinas-record-dumping-us-treasuries-leaves-goldman-speechless

{7} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-17/china-dumps-record-143-billion-us-treasurys-three-months-belgium

{8} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-25/devaluation-stunner-china-has-dumped-100-billion-treasurys-past-two-weeks

{9} http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-27/china-said-to-sell-treasuries-as-dollars-needed-for-yuan-support

{10} http://sputniknews.com/business/20150606/1023020590.html

Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal http://www.strategic-culture.org.

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/08/30/washington-financial-currency-war-china-eclipsing-us-dollar-yuan.html

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BRICS Economic Power

Infographics

South Front (August 27 2015)

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The grouping was originally known as “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs; all five are G-20 members. Since 2010, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. Russia currently holds the chair of the BRICS group.

As of 2015, the five BRICS countries represent over 43% of the world population. The five nations have a combined nominal GDP equivalent to approximately twenty percent of the gross world product. Bilateral relations among BRICS nations have mainly been conducted on the basis of non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit (win-win). It is estimated that the combined GDP of BRICS would reach US$50 trillion mark by 2020.


Click to see the full-size high resolution image (3000×3000)

http://southfront.org/brics-economic-power/

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The Last Refuge of the Incompetent

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (August 19 2015)

There are certain advantages to writing out the ideas central to this blog in weekly bursts. Back in the days before the internet, when a galaxy of weekly magazines provided the same free mix of ideas and opinions that fills the blogosphere today, plenty of writers kept themselves occupied turning out articles and essays for the weeklies, and the benefits weren’t just financial: feedback from readers, on the one hand, and the contributions of other writers in related fields, on the other, really do make it easier to keep slogging ahead at the writer’s lonely trade.

This week’s essay has benefited from that latter effect, in a somewhat unexpected way. In recent weeks, here and there in the corners of the internet I frequent, there’s been another round of essays and forum comments insisting that it’s time for the middle-class intellectuals who frequent the environmental and climate change movements to take up violence against the industrial system. That may not seem to have much to do with the theme of the current sequence of posts – the vacuum that currently occupies the place in our collective imagination where meaningful visions of the future used to be found – but there’s a connection, and following it out will help explain one of the core themes I want to discuss.

The science fiction author Isaac Asimov used to say that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. That’s a half-truth at best, for there are situations in which effective violence is the only tool that will do what needs to be done – we’ll get to that in a moment. It so happens, though, that a particular kind of incompetence does indeed tend to turn to violence when every other option has fallen flat, and goes down in a final outburst of pointless bloodshed. It’s unpleasantly likely at this point that the climate change movement, or some parts of it, may end up taking that route into history’s dumpster; here again, we’ll get to that a little further on in this post.

It’s probably necessary to say at the outset that the arguments I propose to make here have nothing to do with the ethics of violence, and everything to do with its pragmatics as a means of bringing about social change. Ethics in general are a complete quagmire in today’s society.  Nietzsche’s sly description of moral philosophy as the art of propping up inherited prejudices with bad logic has lost none of its force since he wrote it, and since his time we’ve also witnessed the rise of professional ethicists, whose jobs consist of coming up with plausible excuses for whatever their corporate masters want to do this week. The ethical issues surrounding violence are at least as confused as those around any of the other messy realities of human life, and in some ways, more so than most.

Myself, I consider violence enitrely appropriate in some situations. Many of my readers may have heard, for example, of an event that took place a little while back in Kentucky, where a sex worker was attacked by a serial killer.  While he was strangling her, she managed to get hold of his handgun, and proceeded to shoot him dead. To my mind, her action was morally justified. Once he attacked her, no matter what she did, somebody was going to die, and killing him not only turned the violence back on its originator, it also saved the lives of however many other women the guy might have killed before the police got to him – if they ever did; crimes against sex workers, and for that matter crimes against women, are tacitly ignored by a fairly large number of US police departments these days.

Along the same lines, a case can be made that revolutionary violence against a political and economic system is morally justified if the harm being done by that system is extreme enough. That’s not a debate I’m interested in exploring here, though.  Again, it’s not ethics but pragmatics that I want to discuss, because whether or not revolutionary violence is justified in some abstract moral sense is far less important right now than whether it’s an effective response to the situation we’re in. That’s not a question being asked, much less answered, by the people who are encouraging environmental and climate change activists to consider violence against the system.

Violence is not a panacea. It’s a tool, and like any other tool, it’s well suited to certain tasks and utterly useless for others. Political violence in particular is a surprisingly brittle and limited tool. Even when it has the support of a government’s resource base, it routinely flops or backfires, and a group that goes in for political violence without the resources and technical assistance of some government somewhere has to play its hand exceedingly well, or it’s going to fail. Furthermore, there are many cases in which violence isn’t useful as a means of social change, as other tools can do the job more effectively.

Pay attention to the history of successful revolutions and it’s not hard to figure out how to carry out political violence – and far more importantly, how not to do so. The most important point to learn from history is that successful violence in a political context doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It’s the final act of a long process, and the more thoroughly that process is carried out, the less violence is needed when crunch time comes. Let’s take a few paragraphs to walk through the process and see how it’s done.

The first and most essential step in the transformation of any society is the delegitimization of the existing order. That doesn’t involve violence, and in fact violence at this first stage of the process is catastrophically counterproductive – a lesson, by the way, that the US military has never been able to learn, which is why its attempts to delegitimize its enemies (usually phrased in such language as “winning minds and hearts”) have always been so embarrassingly inept and ineffective. The struggle to delegitimize the existing order has to be fought on cultural, intellectual, and ideological battlefields, not physical ones, and its targets are not people or institutions but the aura of legitimacy and inevitability that surrounds any established political and economic order.

Those of my readers who want to know how that’s done might want to read up on the cultural and intellectual life of France in the decades before the Revolution. It’s a useful example, not least because the people who wanted to bring down the French monarchy came from almost exactly the same social background as today’s green radicals: disaffected middle-class intellectuals with few resources other than raw wit and erudition. That turned out to be enough, as they subjected the monarchy – and even more critically, the institutions and values that supported it – to sustained and precise attack from constantly shifting positions, engaging in savage mockery one day and earnest pleas for reform the next, exploiting every weakness and scandal for maximum effect. By the time the crisis finally arrived in 1789, the monarchy had been so completely defeated on the battlefield of public opinion that next to nobody rallied to its defense until after the Revolution was a fait accompli.

The delegitimization of the existing order is only the first step in the process. The second step is political, and consists of building a network of alliances with existing and potential power centers and pressure groups that might be willing to support revolutionary change. Every political system, whatever its official institutional form might be, consists in practice of just such a network of power centers – that is, groups of people who have significant political, economic, or social influence – and pressure groups – that is, other groups of people who lack such influence but can give or withhold their support in ways that can sometimes extract favors from the power centers.

In today’s America, for example, the main power centers are found in what we may as well call the bureaucratic-industrial complex, the system of revolving-door relationships that connect big corporations, especially the major investment banks, with the major Federal bureaucracies, especially the Treasury and the Pentagon. There are other power centers as well – for example, the petroleum complex, which has its own ties to the Pentagon – which cooperate and compete by turns with the New York-DC axis of influence – and then there are pressure groups of many kinds, some more influential, some less, some reduced to the status of captive constituencies whose only role in the political process is to rally the vote every four years and have their agenda ignored by their supposed friends in office in between elections. The network of power centers, pressure groups, and captive constituencies that support the existing order of things is the real heart of political power, and it’s what has to be supplanted in order to bring systemic change.

Effective revolutionaries know that in order to overthrow the existing order of society, they have to put together a comparable network that will back them against the existing order, and grow it to the point that it starts attracting key power centers away from the network of the existing order. That’s a challenge, but not an impossible one. In any troubled society, there are always plenty of potential power centers that have been excluded from the existing order and its feeding trough, and are thus interested in backing a change that will give them the power they want and don’t have. In France before the Revolution, for example, there were plenty of wealthy middle-class people who were shut out of the political system by the aristocracy and the royal court, and the philosophes went out of their way to appeal to them and get their support – an easy job, since the philosophes and the nouveaux-riches shared similar backgrounds. That paid off handsomely once the crisis came.

In any society, troubled or not, there are also always pressure groups, plenty of them, that are interested in getting more access to the various goodies that power centers can dole out, and can be drawn into alliance with a rising protorevolutionary faction. The more completely the existing order of things has been delegitimized, the easier it is to build such alliances, and the alliances can in turn be used to feed the continuing process of delegitimization. Here again, as in the first stage of the process, violence is a hindrance rather than a help, and it’s best if the subject never even comes up for discussion; assembling the necessary network of alliances is much easier when nobody has yet had to face up to the tremendous risks involved in revolutionary violence.

By the time the endgame arrives, therefore, you’ve got an existing order that no longer commands the respect and loyalty of most of the population, and a substantial network of pressure groups and potential power centers supporting a revolutionary agenda. Once the situation reaches that stage, the question of how to arrange the transfer of power from the old regime to the new one is a matter of tactics, not strategy. Violence is only one of the available options, and again, it’s by no means always the most useful one. There are many ways to break the existing order’s last fingernail grip on the institutions of power, once that grip has been loosened by the steps already mentioned.

What happens, on the other hand, to groups that don’t do the necessary work first, and turn to violence anyway? Here again, history has plenty to say about that, and the short form is that they lose. Without the delegitimization of the existing order of society and the creation of networks of support among pressure groups and potential power centers, turning to political violence guarantees total failure.

For some reason, for most of the last century, the left has been unable or unwilling to learn that lesson. What’s happened instead, over and over again, is that a movement pursuing radical change starts out convinced that the existing order of society already lacks popular legitimacy, and so fails to make a case that appeals to anybody outside its own ranks. Having failed at the first step, it tries to pressure existing power centers and pressure groups into supporting its agenda, rather than building a competing network around its own agenda, and gets nowhere. Finally, having failed at both preliminary steps, it either crumples completely or engages in pointless outbursts of violence against the system, which are promptly and brutally crushed. Any of my readers who remember the dismal history of the New Left in the US during the 1960s and early 1970s already know this story, right down to the fine details.

With this in mind, let’s look at the ways in which the climate change movement has followed this same trajectory of abject failure over the last fifteen years or so.

The task of the climate change movement at the dawn of the twenty-first century was difficult but by no means impossible. Their ostensible goal was to create a consensus in the world’s industrial nations that would support the abandonment of fossil fuels and a transition to the less energy-intensive ways of living that renewable resources can provide. That would have required a good many well-off people to accept a decline in their standards of living, but that’s far from the insuperable obstacle so many people seem to think it must be. When Winston Churchill told the British people “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat”, his listeners roared their approval. For reasons that probably reach far into our evolutionary past, a call to shared sacrifice usually gets a rousing response, so long as the people who are being asked to sacrifice have reason to believe something worthwhile will come of it.

That, however, was precisely what the climate change movement was unable to provide. It’s harsh but not, I think, unfair to describe the real agenda of the movement as the attempt to create a future in which the industrial world’s middle classes could keep on enjoying the benefits of their privileged lifestyle without wrecking the atmosphere in the process. Of course it’s not exactly easy to convince everyone else in the world to put aside all their own aspirations for the sake of the already privileged, and so the spokespeople of the climate change movement generally didn’t talk about what they hoped to achieve. Instead, they fell into the most enduring bad habit of the left, and ranted instead about how awful the future would be if the rest of the world didn’t fall into line behind them.

On the off chance that any of my readers harbor revolutionary ambitions, may I offer a piece of helpful advice? If you want people to follow your lead, you have to tell them where you intend to take them. Talking exclusively about what’s going to happen if they don’t follow you will not cut it. Rehashing the same set of talking points about how everyone’s going to die if the whole world doesn’t rally around you emphatically will not cut it. The place where you’re leading them can be difficult and dangerous, the way there can be full of struggle, sacrifice and suffering, and they’ll still flock to your banner – in fact, young men will respond to that kind of future more enthusiastically than to any other, especially if you can lighten the journey with beer and the occasional barbecue – but you have to be willing to talk about your destination. You also have to remember that the phrase “shared sacrifice” includes the word “shared”, and not expect everyone else to give up something so that you don’t have to.

So the climate change movement entered the arena with one hand tied behind its back and the other hand hauling a heavy suitcase stuffed to the bursting point with middle class privilege. Its subsequent behavior did nothing to overcome that initial disadvantage. When the defenders of the existing order counterattacked, as of course they did, the climate change movement did nothing to retake the initiative and undermine its adversaries; preaching to the green choir took the place of any attempt to address the concerns of the wider public; over and over again, climate change activists allowed the other side to define the terms of the debate and then whined about the resulting defeat rather than learning anything from it. Of course the other side used every trick in the book, and then some; so? That’s how the game is played. Successful movements for change realize that, and plan accordingly.

We don’t even have to get into the abysmal failure of the climate change movement to seek out allies among the many pressure groups and potential power centers that might have backed it, if it had been able to win the first and most essential struggle in the arena of public opinion. The point I want to make is that at this point in the curve of failure, violence really is the last refuge of the incompetent. What, after all, would be the result if some of the middle class intellectuals who make up the core of the climate change movement were to pick up some guns, assemble the raw materials for a few bombs, and try to use violence to make their point? They might well kill some people before the FBI guns them down or hauls them off to life-plus terms in Leavenworth; they would very likely finish off climate change activism altogether, by making most Americans fear and distrust anyone who talks about it – but would their actions do the smallest thing to slow the dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the resulting climate chaos? Of course not.

What makes the failure of the climate change movement so telling is that during the same years that it peaked and crashed, another movement has successfully conducted a prerevolutionary campaign of the classic sort here in the US. While the green Left has been spinning its wheels and setting itself up for failure, the populist Right has carried out an extremely effective program of delegitimization aimed at the federal government and, even more critically, the institutions and values that support it. Over the last fifteen years or so, very largely as a result of that program, a great many Americans have gone from an ordinary, healthy distrust of politicians to a complete loss of faith in the entire American project. To a remarkable extent, the sort of rock-ribbed middle Americans who used to insist that of course the American political system is the best in the world are now convinced that the American political system is their enemy, and the enemy of everything they value.

The second stage of the prerevolutionary process, the weaving of a network of alliances with pressure groups and potential power centers, is also well under way. Watch which groups are making common cause with one another on the rightward fringes of society these days and you can see a competent revolutionary strategy at work. This isn’t something I find reassuring – quite the contrary, in fact; aside from my own admittedly unfashionable feelings of patriotism, one consistent feature of revolutions is that the government that comes into power after the shouting and the shooting stop is always more repressive than the one that was in power beforehand. Still, the way things are going, it seems likely to me that the US will see the collapse of its current system of government, probably accompanied with violent revolution or civil war, within a decade or two.

Meanwhile, as far as I can see, the climate change movement is effectively dead in its tracks, and we no longer have time to make something happen before the rising spiral of climate catastrophe begins – as my readers may have noticed, that’s already well under way. From here on in, it’s probably a safe bet that anthropogenic climate change will accelerate until it fulfills the prophecy of The Limits to Growth (1972) and forces the global industrial economy to its knees. Any attempt to bring human society back into some kind of balance with ecological reality will have to get going during and after that tremendous crisis. That requires playing a long game, but then that’s going to be required anyway, to do the things that the climate change movement failed to do, and do them right this time.

With that in mind, I’m going to be taking this blog in a slightly different direction next week, and for at least a few weeks to come. I’ve talked in previous posts {1} about intentional technological regression as an option, not just for individuals but as a matter of public policy. I’ve also talked at quite some length about the role that narrative plays in helping to imagine alternative futures. With that in mind, I’ll be using the tools of fiction to suggest a future that zooms off at right angles to the expectations of both ends of the current political spectrum. Pack a suitcase, dear readers; your tickets will be waiting at the station. Next Wednesday evening, we’ll be climbing aboard a train for Retrotopia.

_____

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {2} and the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

Links:

{1} http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-one-way-forward.html

{2} http://www.aoda.org

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2015/08/the-last-refuge-of-incompetent.html

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The Case for Pragmatism

Exclusive: Since American neocons emerged in the 1980s, they have pushed an aggressive “regime change” strategy that has left bloody chaos in their wake. The cumulative impact, including Mideast refugees flooding Europe and overuse of sanctions, is now contributing to a global economic crisis.

by Robert Parry

https://consortiumnews.com (August 24 2015)

Crashing global stock markets –  punctuated by the bracing 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of Monday’s trading before a partial bounce-back –  are a reminder about the interdependence of today’s world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn’t carry a prohibitively high price.

The hard truth is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system –  and we may be testing that limit now. The problem is that America’s neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks continue to put their ideological priorities ahead of what’s good for the average person on earth.

In other words, it may make sense for some neocon think tank or a “human rights” NGO to demand interventions via “hard power” (military action) or “soft power” (economic sanctions, propaganda or other non-military means). After all, neocon think tanks raise money from self-interested sectors, such as the Military-Industrial Complex, and non-governmental organizations always have their hands out for donations from the US government or friendly billionaires.

But the chaos that these neocons and liberal interventionists inflict on the world –  often justified by claims about “democracy promotion” and “human rights” –  typically ends up creating conditions of far greater horror than the meddling was meant to stop.

For instance, the Islamic State butchers and their former parent organization, Al Qaeda, are transforming Iraq and Syria into blood-soaked killing fields. But the neocons and liberal hawks still think the higher priority was and is to eliminate the relatively stable and prosperous dictatorships of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

There is always a fixation about getting rid of some designated “bad guy” even if the result is some “far-worse guys”. This has been a pattern repeated over and over again, from Libya to Sudan/South Sudan to Ukraine/Russia to Venezuela (just to name a few). In such cases, we see the neocons/liberal hawks release a flood of propaganda against some unpleasant target (Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez or Nicolas Maduro) followed by demands for “regime change” or at least punishing economic sanctions.

Anyone who tries to provide some balance to offset the propaganda is denounced as a “(fill-in-the-blank) apologist” and pushed out of the room of acceptable debate. Then, with no one in Official Washington left to challenge the “group think”, the only question is how extreme should the punishment be –  direct military assault (as in Iraq, Libya and Syria), a political coup d’etat (as in Ukraine and almost in Venezuela) or economic sanctions (as in Russia and Sudan).

For many Americans trying to do international business, it can be confusing as to where the legal lines are, who is or who isn’t on some black list, what kinds of transactions are allowed or forbidden. I know of one counselor who helps people overcome stuttering who had to reject Skype lessons with a prospective patient in Iran because it wasn’t clear whether that might violate the draconian US sanctions regime.

Spreading the Chaos

Arguably some narrowly focused sanctions against a particularly nefarious foreign leader might make sense. Even a limited military intervention might not upset the entire world’s economy. But the proliferation of these strategies has combined to destabilize not just the targeted regimes but nations far from the front lines and is now contributing to global economic chaos.

In tracing these patterns, you can go back in time to such misguided fiascos as the CIA’s huge covert operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s (which gave rise to the Taliban and Al Qaeda). However, for argument’s sake, let’s start with the neocon success in promoting President George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. Not only did that war divert more than $1 trillion in US taxpayers’ money from productive uses into destructive ones, but it began a massive spread of chaos across the Middle East.

Add in President Barack Obama’s 2011 “humanitarian” interventions in Libya (via Western bombing operations to topple Muammar Gaddafi’s regime) and in Syria (via covert support for rebels and sanctions against President Assad’s government) –  and you have two more Mad Max scenarios in two once relatively prosperous Arab states.

These human catastrophes have sent waves of refugees crashing into other Mideast countries and into Europe where the European Union was already stumbling economically, still trying to recover from Wall Street’s 2007 & 2008 financial crisis. After tasting the bitter medicine of austerity for years, Europeans now find their fairly generous welfare systems stretched to the breaking point by refugees seeking asylum.

Having just returned from a visit to Europe, I was struck by the intensity of feelings about the refugee crisis. Some EU nations are throwing up anti-migrant barriers while everyone seems to be squabbling over who should foot the bill at a time when there are financial crises in Greece and other southern-tier countries, which coincidentally are bearing the brunt of the refugee problem.

Toss into this volatile mix of a Europe seemingly close to explosion the Obama administration’s “neocon/liberal interventionist” policies toward Ukraine, where neocon holdover Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland helped orchestrate a 2014 coup to remove democratically elected President Yanukovych after he was demonized in the US mainstream media as corrupt.

Citing “democracy promotion” and “anti-corruption”, the Obama administration backed the creation of a coup regime that has relied on neo-Nazi and Islamist militias {1} to serve as its tip of the spear against ethnic Russian Ukrainians who have resisted the ouster of Yanukovych. Thousands –  mostly eastern Ukrainians –  have died. Of course, all this was explained to the American people as a simple case of “Russian aggression”.

After the coup, when the ethnic Russians of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, that became a “Russian invasion”, justifying harsh economic sanctions against Moscow, with the Obama administration strong-arming the Europeans to forgo their profitable trade relations with Russia to punish the Russian economy. But that also added to the pressure on the European economy.

As this madness has escalated, the neocons and their liberal-hawk pals now envision destabilizing the Putin government in nuclear-armed Russia. They don’t seem to recognize that the guy who might follow Putin may not be some obliging Boris Yeltsin but a hard-line ultranationalist ready to brandish the Kremlin’s nuclear arsenal in defense of Mother Russia.

Misguided Interventions

While these various US “hard” and “soft” power interventions are justified by the principles of “human rights”, they often end up working against that goal. A discrete example is the case of Sudan and South Sudan, a crisis that traces back to the demands for a “humanitarian intervention” over Sudan’s alleged genocide in Darfur in 2003.

That horrible conflict was painted in stark black and white colors in the US press, innocent good guys versus evil bad guys, but was actually much more nuanced than what was shown to the American people. The war was touched off by Darfur rebels, but the Sudanese army struck back brutally. The “human rights” community settled on Sudan’s President Bashir as the designated villain, who now faces an indictment in the International Criminal Court.

So, there was great sympathy for carving South Sudan away from Sudan in 2011 and making it an independent country (although oddly Darfur remained part of Sudan). But South Sudan, which possesses significant oil reserves, could sustain itself only if it could get its oil to market and the pipelines went north through Sudan.

And, since the United States and other countries were busy sanctioning Sudan for not turning over Bashir to the ICC, oil companies were unable to assist South Sudan in exploiting its valuable resource, which in turn caused hardship in South Sudan and contributed to a bloody civil war pitting one tribe against another. That led to, you guessed it, calls to sanction South Sudan.

The ongoing tragedy of Sudan/South Sudan is horrific enough, but it is only emblematic of the unintended consequences of rigid neocon/liberal interventionist ideology, which rejects negotiations with “bad guys”, insisting instead on “regime change” or endless punishment of entire populations through sanctions even when those “solutions” inflict more hardship and death.

But now these destructive strategies are going global. They are threatening the economic well-being of the entire planet –  taking their place along with other misguided theories such as “free-market” absolutism and “austerity” in the face of recessions. The cumulative impact from these various follies has been to put the West’s Middle Class under severe pressure regarding income and purchasing power, which finally has slowed China’s growth and prompted a crash of its financial markets.

That, in turn, is reverberating back across the rest of the world’s stock markets, erasing trillions of dollars in wealth and further reducing the savings of the Middle Class. As this vicious cycle starts spinning, that could mean even less consumer spending and further economic retrenchment.

The prospects for a global recession, if not a full-scale depression, can no longer be ignored. And such economic hardship would only contribute to more death, devastation and destabilization.

Pragmatic Solutions

So what can be done? As dark as the gathering economic storm may be, one silver lining could be that Americans and other Westerners will finally begin pushing back against the powerful neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist fellow-travelers.

Perhaps, instead of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal being a one-off affair that may barely survive a determined neocon assault in the US Congress, it could become a model for pragmatic approaches to other international crises. The core of this pragmatism would be that one doesn’t have to love or even like the leadership of another country to cooperate on global concerns, whether they are economic, geopolitical or environmental.

There also should be a recognition that no country has all the answers or a monopoly on morality. American self-righteousness is not only hypocritical –  given the many flaws in the US political system from the buying of our [election] campaigns to our repeated violations of international law –  but it is self-defeating, requiring the endless expenditure of blood and treasure to act as self-appointed global “policeman” whether the world wants it or not.

If pragmatism replaced exceptionalism as the focus of US international relations, there would be some obvious moves that could reduce world tensions and alleviate some of the economic dislocations that are contributing to the deepening economic crisis.

For instance, instead of a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, what’s wrong with the eastern Ukrainians receiving more autonomy and the right to keep their Russian language? Why shouldn’t the people of Crimea have the right to break their political bonds with Kiev and renew them with Moscow? Why has President Obama bent to the neocon prescriptions of Assistant Secretary Nuland when a little give-and-take could make life better for Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans?

Similarly, why can’t the United States accept a compromise in Syria that includes power-sharing for whatever moderate Sunnis remain and accepts at least the temporary continuation of President Assad’s rule as part of a secular state protecting the lives and interests of Christians, Shiites, Alawites and other minorities? Why not a joint US-Russian-Iranian effort to stabilize the war-torn country, block the expansion of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and ease the refugee crisis in the Mideast and Europe?

Yes, I realize that geopolitical pragmatism is anathema to many power centers of Official Washington, particularly the influential neocons, their benefactors in the Israel Lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex, and the many self-interested NGOs of the “human rights” community which favor “humanitarian wars” and seem to care little if their purity leads to even more suffering.

But –  as the world’s economy teeters and global markets tumble –  the American people no longer have the luxury of intervening willy-nilly around the globe. International pragmatism, including working with adversaries, may be the only way to prevent the swelling geopolitical pressures from building into a devastating financial crash.

Link:

{1} https://consortiumnews.com/2015/07/07/ukraine-merges-nazis-and-islamists/

_____

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative (2012), either in print or as an e-book. You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative.

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/08/24/the-case-for-pragmatism/

Categories: Uncategorized

Financial Times Calls For Abolishing Cash

Eliminating physical currency necessary to give central banks more power

by Paul Joseph Watson

Info Wars (August 28 2015)

The Financial Times has published an anonymous article which calls for the abolition of cash in order to give central banks and governments more power.

Entitled The Case For Retiring Another ‘Barbarous Relic’, the article laments the fact that people are stockpiling cash in anticipation of another economic collapse, a factor which is causing, “a lot of distortion to the economic system”.

“The existence of cash –  a bearer instrument with a zero interest rate –  limits central banks’ ability to stimulate a depressed economy. The worry is that people will change their deposits for cash if a central bank moves rates into negative territory”, states the article.

Complaining that cash cannot be tracked and traced, the writer argues that its abolition would, “make life easier for a government set on squeezing the informal economy out of existence”.

Abolishing cash would also give governments more power to lift taxes directly from people’s bank accounts, the author argues, noting how “Value added tax, for example, could be automatically levied –  and reimbursed –  in real time on transactions between liable bank accounts”.

The writer also calls for punishing people who use cash by making users “pay for the privilege of anonymity” so they will, “remain affected by monetary policy”. Dated bank notes would lose their value over time, while people would also be charged by banks for swapping electronic reserves for physical cash and vice versa.

The article echoes an argument made by Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who has called for high denomination banks notes such as the 100 euro and 500 euro notes to be phased out of existence.

As we previously reported, Rogoff attended a meeting in London earlier this year where he met representatives from the Federal Reserve, the ECB as well as participants from the Swiss and Danish central banks. The issue of banning cash was at the forefront of the agenda.

Last year, Rogoff also called for “abolishing physical currency” in order to stop “tax evasion and illegal activity” as well as preventing people from withdrawing money when interest rates are close to zero.

The agenda to ban cash was also discussed at this year’s secretive Bilderberg Group meeting, which was attended by the Financial Times‘ chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.

Former Bank of England economist Jim Leaviss penned an article for the London Telegraph earlier this year in which he said a cashless society would only be achieved by “forcing everyone to spend only by electronic means from an account held at a government-run bank”, which would be, “monitored, or even directly controlled by the government”.

In the UK, banks are treating the withdrawal of cash in amounts as low as GBP 5,000 as a suspicious activity, while in France, citizens will be banned from making cash payments over 1,000 euros from Tuesday onwards. The withdrawal and deposit of cash over the amount of 1,000 euros will also be subject to ID verification.

“There is no more egregious anti-liberty economic policy imaginable than banning cash”, writes Michael Krieger.

Of course, if cash were involuntarily “ended”, there would be a surge in demand for physical gold and silver, which would then necessitate a ban on those items. Then the cycle of economic and financial tyranny would be complete, and crawling our way out of it, nearly impossible.

_____

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

http://www.infowars.com/financial-times-calls-for-abolishing-cash/

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